Shoe Stuff

I have a wonder, I got a new pair of shoes yesterday and I have immediately worn them. Now my life was going along pretty fine with my last new pair of shoes I was still wearing them and me and my feet protecting devices were getting along fine so why the sudden abandonment of my old faithful’s. I was horrified further when I opened my wardrobe and discover more abandoned soles, I don’t know if it’s due to the titanic anniversary or my own self shame but I shall rescue these adrift shoes and re-pair our unlaced relationship. And I shall also stop with the terrible puns.

Wear….Ahem, where to begin though, it’s weird being a bloke and feeling comfortable talking about shoes, either I am unsure about my sexuality or it really doesn’t matter. I shall make a dedication,

 

Henceforth from this day…forth..wards.

I… Dan Lowe…. Shall endeavour to wear a different pair of shoes every two, other week

To promote equality and fairness amongst my shoe community there shall also be a lottery for special occasions.

Signed

Dan Lowe

 

Done and on paper, well the sort of paper that can be edited and or deleted at any point in case I forget… So here beings my rather, the more I actually think about it, uninteresting shoe journey. Pictures may or not appear as I am currently in talks with my shoes agents and writing up a contract.

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Kindle me this!

As a student of books I have had the opportunity to find and fall in love with many various novels of all genres and authors, and for this I feel obliged to defend the humble paper. Now I had a Kindle for Christmas one year my first and only electronic reader of any type and I do use it for times when carrying over one hundred books would not be practical so for that purpose, holidays and extended travel, eReaders are justified for their existence. But when I’m sat in a library and some cave-ape-man walks in with his electronic book whilst surrounded by thousands of real books written on real pages not a screen pretending to be a page…I think, it’s no wonder publishers are closing down, magazines once loved no longer on the shelves. Don’t think I’m starting to blame Amazon for the death of the book, take a look at this article as evidence to the contrary.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/30/death-books-exaggerated

However I do feel certain, how can I put this without sounding like a book snob, convenience to having your newspaper, favourite novels, magazines and any other publication you can think of delivered to your iPad or eReader for a fraction of retail cost. But there’s the kicker you see, yes now prices of electronic publications are cheaper than their physical counterparts but when push comes to shove and the newsstand is no more e-prices will sneak up to match if not overtake physical retail. I love that the world is at our fingertips but I can also appreciate the art of printing and the texture under my fingertips rather than the touch of plastic plugged into the mains. As a reading public we need to establish a balance in our reading habits, equilibrium between what we read online or electronically to what we pop into a shop to purchase.

I remember a while ago mid-nineties when pc games used to come in giant A4 shaped boxes and at a cost of thirty five pounds on average. Then came the humble dvd box we all know of today, half the size and made of cheaper plastic than expensive cardboard, with the promise of cheaper to buy easier to store games. Sure enough as the boxes shrank so did the prices until they realised that businesses were buying more stock to fill their selves but not selling enough quantity of stock to make a profit. Basically smaller boxes left more shelf space to be filled so extra than normal stock had to be brought. This evidently led to a price hike which we feel today, forty to fifty even sixty pounds for some games. Okay so the box size isn’t the only reason for such prices but is was supposed to be a contributing factor to lower priced games, and so was direct to drive where there is no packaging at all yet the price remain thirty pounds and upwards. This is where my points meet up between books and video games, direct to drive much like eBooks should be a fraction of cost to the publisher and retailer of the games, many drd games coming direct from publishers, yet the prices still remain high when compared to eBooks and books. A book could be twelve pound off the shelf and seven from Amazon. There is a distanced gap between the two, but not with retail and drd games where the price is usually the same. Some exceptions exist but where profit is to be made it will be made. And when book publishers realise this or even do some research then a price hike will be sure to follow.

Sure that is mainly speculation on my part, but it is in my observation. Could the book industry go down the same road, we have already seen the demise of many loved magazines in the gaming industry the biggest probably being PC Zone, but was it due its time? I think so, though I would have much preferred PC Gamer to have disappeared from CVG’s network than PC Zone, but my opinion alone is not equitable to the millions of readers Gamer has compared to the hundreds of thousands the Zone had. So we and I must remember that even though eReaders and iPads are popular at the moment times may change and popular opinion sway another way. Zone once pulled in more readers than Gamer, ten years later it was gone, why? It didn’t adapt to the times.

As per usual I have swayed away from my original point, that of my love of books but I guess it is not restricted to just novels and poems but rather words that move me in some way. What I read in the morning paper or glance upon during a twitter surge. My passion blinds my perspective and if you’re like me take a step back to appreciate that eBooks are an evolution of books, they may or may not be the next stage but the most current. So next time you’re sitting on the subway and see some snotty nosed student reading Marx and Engels on his Kindle instead of a hard back leather bound copy of yester year just think, at least he still has the choice to read.

The Irony is some time after this article was originally written I finished university and have not picked up a paper or hard back book to read in months. Perhaps it’s due to an overload of work from uni or just I’ve fallen into the techno trap of convenience offered by my kindle. Still the original point holds I feel.

Honourable Support

 

So my partner is a volunteer at a not so local museum and of course being the general layabout that I am, I pop along to help once in a while. I mainly go for brownie points that I can trade in at a later date and partially because to my surprise I actually found it interesting. The museum is within an old cottage in the middle of Uttoxeter, and centres ago a bloke called Francis Redfern lived there, now I couldn’t tell you zip about this guy other than he wrote some books about Uttoxeter and liked to paint water colours. What I did find interesting however is that Samuel Johnson used to knock around Uttoxeter. Samuel Johnson being the guy that wrote the dictionary, well wrote isn’t correct I guess compiled would be a more accurate term. Being a massive book geek and the fact they have a volume of one of the early edition dictionary prints is more than enough to keep me entertained. Even though I can’t actually handle the dictionary and can only see two pages, it’s enough to know it still exists and is there for other book enthusiasts like me to view. There’s other stuff going on around the house/museum and the wartime kitchen is cool, ration books and newspapers etc.

I wouldn’t have known about this place if it wasn’t for my partners’ interest in working within the museum sector and volunteering. I guess that’s the point I’m getting at. Somewhere local to you is a small independent and usually struggling to stay open museum or other business that would be perfect for you hobbies and interests, just get out there and support your local or not so local independent businesses. Because unfortunately in this day and age, I sound like my nan there, places like Redferns Cottage need the support of their local community and cannot rely and council and government funding to keep them afloat.

I’ve ended up being a little preachy there which isn’t my intention but hopefully you get my point and it also links back to one of my earlier posts about boredom, you have to get out to see what’s there otherwise something you may love will slip you by.

That’s my unashamed plug of my partner’s interests but is there a local business near you that deserves honourable support? Spread the word.

http://redfernscottage.org.uk/ – Redferns Cottage Website.

Nintendo Wii – The Giant’s Shoulders

Thoughts on the Wii

Consoles are different from how they used to be. Actually that’s now wholly true, saying people view consoles differently from how they used to, is closer to the mark. What people are these? The non-gamers, the mums who complain about how dark your room is, the wives who ask “when are you coming to bed?” and the girlfriends whose glazed over eyes confirm that only you and your ‘friends’ are interested in recollections of COD skirmishes. Now to generalise non-gamers to women is unfair but in my experience, 9 and ½ times out of 10, gamers are men. Or so I thought. I witnessed what can only be described as something wonderful, one Christmas, a mother opening a gift, three big blue letters on the box, it said… W-i-i. It all changed then, my perception of consoles, my mother’s perception of consoles, perception of perception, it was making no sense and my head was spinning but I knew life would never be the same. Now that’s a little dramatic but it gets my point across. My mum picked up a console and liked it, didn’t tut at the noise didn’t moan about “square eyes” or other such bizarre sayings, she just picked it up put it on and played and still does to this day. Wonderful.

Where had this woman come from? She was the generalisation of parents who saw consoles as antisocial, dirty and a thing that makes men lazy and boys to forget their homework. Who was this person? Have you ever wondered why the original Xbox 360 and Wii were white? It’s a strategy, mind games a way in which to convince those who see consoles as the destroyers of their children and partners souls that gone are the dark days of closed curtains and shut doors with shouts of “I’m not hungry!” and “Ten more minutes!” being the only communication for days. White means clean, open, airy and inviting. Okay some of the older consoles were also white, see the Dreamcast, but colour isn’t the only factor, have you seen the size of the Wii? Tiny, I think I could fit four Wii’s into my Xbox and maybe a remote too; in fact the remote is almost a third of its size. Small white, clean and tidy, neat and presentable, these are words a parent uses, words that appeal to those parents. As I visited friends and family, invited into their homes for a few short hours I noticed one thing in nearly every household, a PlayStation or Xbox alongside a Wii. In some cases it’s all three but these are younger families the older generation of parents, aunties and uncles are where the Wii’s stand out. And then in those cases it’s usually only the Wii. I remember someone a while back telling me that statistically there was a Ps2 in every home, I never knew if it was true and never really cared because it was something I never saw. My Nan and Granddad were never hot footing it in GTA but I’ve witnessed a rather aggressive game of bowling by my elders on quite possibly the biggest high definition TV I have ever seen, show offs. I’ve seen Wii’s used in various ways in hospitals, schools, gyms, old people’s homes, homeless shelters, pubs and police stations! The list goes on, where ever groups gather Wii’s exist. Or at least they did. Yeah the novelty wore of after a while but the machine at its cost was worth every pound, dollar and Yen. We still have the occasional gathering of family where the Wii comes out, we play around a bit have a laugh, it adds a unique activity to the average reunion building on social activity that connects us all. It is as if Nintendo decided that one day consoles were no longer antisocial just social, don’t believe us? Here have a play on this. Microsoft and Sony entered this market but in my view since the Wii+, Move and Kinect just didn’t cut the mustard. But even before Wii+ the experience was not the same, it is as if the spirit of the fun that came from those games echoed through the Wii itself and is none replicable. The charm was in the Wii not the Ps3 or Xbox 360, perhaps this was its downfall in the ‘gamer’ market but I enjoy adult games on the Wii as much as I do the other consoles, it is just a shame there wasn’t as many titles that are as good as what’s on offer from PlayStation or Xbox.

The Wii was effectively done with in 2012, with the promise of Nintendo’s new system coming around winter time that year. But that didn’t holding it back and the console enjoyed a slight resurrection. Remember when the mighty Ps2 was at an end, yes there are great titles from that machine but from its last year can I name any without looking them up? I wish I could but the answer is no. The Wii on the other hand I can name three right away Skyward Sword, The Last Story, Xenoblade. These are all high quality AAA titles worthy of launch day, they are definers of their generation, the culmination of every related title from before, the perfection of their genre and they are coming at the end of their parent consoles life. The mature games Wii fans have been waiting for. Could they have been put back one little year to help Nintendo launch their new system? They sure could have but they were not, should they have come out sooner? Well unfortunately the answer is the same but would they have been as good? I doubt it. Will they be remembered in gaming history? I can say that for Skyward and Xenoblade I honestly think so. It is part of the philosophy of the Wii to go at its own pace which has been rounded off with the release of these very good games, not also rans to squeeze a little extra cash from a lame cow, but fully fledged gaming experiences that will be remembered and come back to. It felt as a reward to all those people who have loved and cherished their time with the Wii over the years as its life comes to an end. Will there be any more surprises as the year draws on? With the Olympics around the corner and the success of the tied in Mario games I am sure there will be at least one last flick of the wrist, in a sociably acceptable way.

You ever heard the saying standing on the shoulders of giants? Being elevated, becoming better than your forbears, carrying on what was laid before. Was the Wii standing on this giant? No it wasn’t, tried and tested technology that can be found at any arcade in the world and as far back as the original duck hunt game. The Wii however, was a whole new giant. The platform from which consoles and general gaming became accepted into the modern family; it was an opposite of type. It was the platform that brought simple, engaging and social gameplay to our households opening up relationships between gamers and non-gamers, mothers and sons, not another all-out gaming system for boys young and old with ultra-violence and high concentration precise control.  Of course the Ps3 and Xbox 360 would have been successful in their own right as mass online console gaming was coming no matter what, no small thanks to the Dreamcast, but the Wii softened the market and showed Microsoft and Sony the true power of social gaming, which they in turn took successfully one step further as they stood upon the Wii’s shoulders. It made sceptical parents and suspicious partners more open to the idea of a console in the house, moved from the dark corner cupboard bedrooms and musty garages straight into our living rooms. The most prominent room of the house, like a pet dog or new born baby consoles are now part of the family. Ps3’s are multimedia systems sitting under your televisions showing you Blu-ray movies and pictures of your kids, Xbox 360’s have replaced stereos and DVD players (for those of us who don’t care for Blu-ray), both providing us quick and easy ways to contact our friends and families, access social networks and arrange supposed friendly matches of Fifa and watch television with fantastic accessibility. The Wii sits patiently in the corner waiting for the next gathering of people into your household, the next big birthday or even Christmas knowing the for now it may have been forgotten, it will be remembered in the end. The futures bright for the next generation to build upon the successes and giant strides taken by this magnificent console generation we have had, and as the stars of the Wii, Ps3 and Xbox 360 head into maturity, I find myself thinking as I see the two brighter stars still blazing away and as the forgotten star of the Wii defiantly shines on into its dying days… I’ll miss the Wii the most.

The Power of Boredom

Thirty years I’ve been in this life, I can honestly say I can collectively remember about six of those years maybe even less if I sat down and thought about it. Which as the title of this article now makes sense, I did…four years ago, and quite ironically I have just remembered the moment. It comes round that I can remember about three years, day’s moments and memories just lost to the void and gone forever. Mostly the memories I did remember were ones of regret, where I took the wrong road or just did nothing about a situation. I always held the belief in myself that I had no regrets and would not change my life in anyway as it makes me who I am, well pish that’s gone out the window. This made me sad and I decided to do something about it. But here’s the twist….this article isn’t about what I did to change my life around and make myself a better person, truth be told the motivation lasted about a week and I cannot really remember what happened, I think it involved hilarity, misadventure and copious amounts of…other such fun and a judge. My question is this, what would the world be like if more people embraced the power of boredom?

“do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few”

Pythagoras said that, yes the same guy who was the bane of our mathematical lessons in childhood with his crazy theorems. It is a sublime little quote that sums up my argument.

I would have loved to have left it there but as I chuckle away to myself at what a card I am, I cannot. The message is in Pythagoras’ words though, less is more, a more common take on the phrase these days and means just the same. In this fast paced go get’em world people are not taking the time to sit back and enjoy their hard created labours. We all contribute to the creation of everything, how so when Brick MacNojob sits on his hairy arse playing Call of Duty all day compared to Lindy McWorksalot who is never at home and always in work earning pennies and pounds. Well I’ll explain. Hopefully. I need science for this or theoretical science to be more precise, well actually it’s probably just philosophy but I had to use that word nearly everyday at one point in my life and I like to avoid it. I’m rambling but the point is without a cause there can be no effect, yet without the effect of said causes there can be no new cause. How is this applied to being bored? Well in my mind without boredom there can be no opposite emotion and that would be excitement, and without excitement there would be no passion no love and no creativity to drive us forward. The world would become a stagnant uninventive gloomy place. Sounds like my home town. But surely, I hear you cry, surely that would then create a state or boredom? Well first off don’t call me Shirley, and secondly why yes it would so our cause of not being creative would create the effect of being bored which in turn would become a cause and lead to a brighter future for us all. Of not being bored. So Brick and Lindy can be perfectly excused of their extreme example lives as without the slob who does nothing or the hyperactive who never sees their friends or family there would be no need for the in-between person who is mostly a perfect representation of ourselves. Thinking about boredom is dangerous to your existence as I think things are about to get metaphysical so I shall end it here.

My final words are these, I am not really sure of my point but the power of boredom is epic and it’s a good thing to get bored once in a while. This has pretty much been on my mind all day, that and bagception where I have placed many bags within bags and made the noise “errrr” every couple of minutes. Beautiful.